Is Self-Publishing Actually Free?

Michelle Massie

2/2/20234 min read

Is self-publishing free? Well, technically, it can be. If you’re a graphic design whiz, a professional proofreader/editor, and don’t need any extra help along the way, then sure. Totally free!

But if you’re like me, and just a normal human being, it is going to cost a few bucks to put out a good-looking, high-quality book.

Luckily, there are freelancers out there that do quality work for a range of prices. But remember, often, the more expensive the service means that person or company has more experience, therefore can charge more.

But not always.

Let me break down the costs that I spent self-publishing my first book, A Magic Evermore.


I spent $60.00 for the Download. I absolutely love Scrivener and all its capabilities. If you want to write a manuscript, I recommend you do some research and find a wonderful program to write a novel in.

These programs are handy for saving all your research, outlines, and manuscripts. You can divide your novel up into chapters or scenes, or however you want it.

You can have notes, outlines, images--everything listed right off to the side of your writing. I can’t tell you how much easier this program made writing my book.


At first, I used the Free version. I was determined to be cheap. It just didn’t fly. I finally spent about $80.00 for a year version, or you can pay $20.00 monthly. Totally worth it.

The paid version can do so much more, like telling you words or phrases you use too often, ‘sticky’ words, your use of adverbs, passive verbs—the list goes on and on.

Fiverr-Book Cover designer

The cover designer I finally went with was $200.00. The first ones I went with were $30.00 each. They both made me nice covers, and I thought I liked them.

Finally, I went with a young lady who prepared me a wonderful cover that I was completely happy with.

Soo, I spent a bit more than I had to on the cover. Tried to go cheaper, and it didn’t work out. (These prices are not including tips. Don't forget about tipping freelancers!)


I ended up spending about $700.00 for two different Editors (developmental and a copy editor) and about $100.00 for a Proofreader. Remember-these prices vary greatly.

Editing an entire book is highly time-consuming and quite a process, and very useful. I now understand why these people can charge so much!

My editor(s) pointed out some errors and things that could be done better, and I am so glad I fixed these problems. The proofreader is also a great thing to use—she caught errors I never would have even noticed.

Publisher Rocket

I paid about $100.00 for Publisher Rocket. Very worth it during your publishing time. Publisher Rocket is a program by Dave Chesson, and it is a great way to boost your Amazon sales.

If you’ve ever published anything, you know the importance of keywords. Publisher Rocket finds them for you, as well as categories, and your biggest competitors in each given category. With the click of a button, you can have the best SEO for Amazon!


I spent $147.00 on Atticus. Atticus is a new formatting tool by Dave Chesson—and I highly recommend it, especially for a newbie. It was so nice to see what the format of my book was going to look like on a phone before publishing!

It also has different themes, ornamental page breaks (my fave), and tons of other stuff. Makes putting your book on Amazon a breeze. The first time I tried KDP’s program, it was an absolute nightmare. I had the most trouble with the line spacing. Going back and fixing errors was obnoxious.

It took me days to get my first book on with KDP Publishing. With Atticus, I was ready to go in about ten minutes!

Grand total—$1447.00

This total is not including my marketing costs, which are starting to pile up. I don’t tell you this to scare you away from self-publishing. There are so many resources out there to help save the bucks. And I’m actually pretty impressed with what I've spent so far.

Are all the costs listed here all 100% necessary? Absolutely not. But they made my first book easier and cleaner to get out there. And that is just the writing/publishing portion. I've also spent on things like marketing (again Fiverr) and promos.

Never fear! There there are ways to save! Programs are always offering 30-day Free trials and coupons, and it is possible to find interns to do editing and proofreading.

Have a good friend who is a whiz on the computer? Have them give it a shot at making a book cover!

Remember, sites like Fiverr have sooo many freelancers out there, in such a range of prices. Shop around and read reviews!

I hope this has helped put into perspective the costs that hover around writing and publishing a book. Good Luck!

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